“The media, prior to this, was already making it a three-to-five person race, and now there’s a solar eclipse of a story that will make it really, really difficult to drive any message,” says Glen Caplin, who was a senior advisor to Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign. “The entire conversation now is going to be driven around Trump and impeachment, and it’s going to be a real challenge for candidates in the bottom five to get coverage, and even those in the top five to drive it on any given day.”

A senior aide to one candidate still in the race put it a little less delicately: “It sucks, actually. Impeachment’s gonna kill anyone who’s not a senator or in the top five. We’re fucked.”

The likely difficulty for candidates from El Paso to Minneapolis isn’t just an inability to break through in the saturated national media environment, though that is one concern. (“It’s been the most nationalized race I’ve ever seen, driven by nationalized media coverage,” said Caplin, who also worked for Hillary Clinton in 2016.) Instead, it’s the subsequent lack of cash that begets a long-term inability to build up infrastructure in early-voting states and to invest in paid advertising, which a consultant to a middle-tier campaign characterized as the “one way you can break through right now,” since ads aren’t dependent on the news cycle. And that doesn’t just determine whether candidates can make it to the next few debate stages, a necessary hurdle to long-term viability. In fact, “the choices that are going to be on the ballot in February and March are being set now,” said yet another senior aide helping lead a campaign struggling to stay afloat. “The main thing that is determining whether you can participate in that ultimate campaign is finances.”